The writing is on the wall. Humanity is about to enter a new phase in the history of our species, one in which we begin to share our daily existence with artificial intelligences and maybe even artificial lifeforms. While so-called “biohybrid” lifeforms are so far confined to the laboratory, artificial intelligence (AI) systems are already appearing in many sectors of public life. From medical data research to traffic system optimizing, the processing speed and predictive capabilities of AI are revolutionizing how we interact with the world. This can already be seen in the transportation sector as AI systems have taken the wheel and are driving our vehicles for us. But why stop there? AI systems are also being implemented in vehicles as a means of interfacing with human occupants. In a major AI breakthrough, two major automakers will begin shipping cars in 2019 with a voice-powered artificial intelligence assistant. What could go wrong?
The AI assistant will be shipped in some 2019 Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Both brands are owned by the South Korea-based Hyundai Motor Group. The AI assistant, or “Intelligent Personal Agent,” will respond to users’ voice commands and be able to access data such as users’ calendars, address books, and other services and apps. The Intelligent Personal Agent can respond to queries about weather, traffic, or messaging, while also provide hands-free voice control over many facets of the car’s functions like air conditioning, audio systems, and navigation. While voice control is already available in some vehicles, this new system can go far beyond what conventional voice-recognition can do. The system can understand multiple requests at once and understands natural language. Even more impressive, the system learns users’ preferences and habits over time and will be able to predict user behaviors. For instance, if you ask the Intelligent Personal Agent to turn the seat warmer on enough times, soon it will do it by itself as soon as you enter the car.
Hyundai will demonstrate its Intelligent Personal Agent technology next month at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. Is this finally a compelling reason to buy a Kia?